Michael S. Palanza

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — On Oct. 9, 1973, a bright light and adventurous spirit was born. Michael Scott Palanza was full of life, had the greatest sense of humor and quick wit. He was on the go from the moment he learned to crawl.

Michael’s mother, Pam Butler, married Wayne Wilson, and they moved to Old Orchard Beach where Michael ran indoor and outdoor track and, along with his brothers, Adam and Matthew Wilson and his cousin, Carlton Pratt, played football winning the state championship gold ball. During the football season Michael’s parents would host a game day breakfast for the team. His 3-year-old sister could always be found in full uniform cheering her brothers on from the sidelines.

Wayne was Michael’s father in every way, ready to listen and available to offer helpful advice when needed, which Michael fully embraced.

Michael was always a gifted artist; when he was an eighth-grader at Saco Middle School, he designed the eagle’s head etched onto the Veteran’s Monument at Laurel Hill Cemetery.

After graduating from Old Orchard Beach High School and Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, Michael began his stellar, lifelong career as a graphic designer and creative director. He worked for WCJ in New York before moving to Maryland where he continued in this role at HZDG, working on campaigns for such companies as Volkswagen and The Washington Capitals. HZDG was acquired by Burson Cohn & Wolfe, an international public relations and communications firm headquartered in NYC where Michael remained as creative director, working from home during the COVID pandemic and taking on the role of helping his children with their homeschooling.

He enjoyed many travels around the country for work and pleasure; however, no place ever measured up to Maine. He was proud of his small-town roots where he was loved and supported by his parents and surrounded by many friends, his two brothers, his younger sister and extended family. He especially enjoyed having the ocean and mountains nearby. He loved surfing, life guarding and working alongside his uncle, John Butler of Scarborough, on his lobster boat.


Michael enjoyed hiking and skiing mountains in Maine and Colorado. Family ski trips to his Aunt Bonnie’s and Uncle Blaine’s at Sugarloaf were fun for all. Always the athlete, he continued to work out daily, bike and run marathons for charity.

A skilled guitarist, Michael cut two CD’s and played in a band.

Spending holidays in Maine held some of his fondest memories, along with a special Thanksgiving in Maryland with Elizabeth, his parents, nana, aunt, uncle, cousins, cousins, cousin-in-law, his sister, Rosebeth, his son, Alec, and four dogs. There was a houseful and room for more.

Michael visited Maine in August of this year. The family gathered at the True home in Saco with his sister, his Aunt Karen, Uncle Tim, and his cousins, who he was very close to, Ryan True of Scarborough, Krystin True of Saco and Laurie Webber of Biddeford, there were many hugs, laughs and memories shared.

Michael had a special bond with his grandparents; Nana, Bubba, Gram and Pa who pre-deceased him.

Michael is survived by his children, Alec, Arden, Finley, and Mila Palanza. His sister, Rosebeth Wilson and his two brothers, Adam, and Matthew Wilson. He would say his mother and father, Pam, and Wayne Wilson of Old Orchard Beach, were his rock. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends.


The family wishes to thank Elizabeth Piazza, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, for her extreme kindness and support during this time. She and Michael shared many adventures together as a young couple and will forever have a special bond.

On his birthday, Oct. 9, 2022, Michael unexpectedly suffered a heart attack leaving an emptiness in the lives of many that can never be filled.

A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Messiah Christian Church, US Route 1, Wells, Maine.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the michaelgouletfoundation.org their mission of providing helmets to prevent traumatic brain injuries is close to his family’s heart and their logo is one of Michael’s unique designs.

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